Obviously, we are happy that simulation has become a popular method of education in healthcare. Simulation can provide a hands-on approach to learning that allows participants to experience real-life situations in a safe and controlled environment.
However, while simulation has many benefits, it’s not necessarily the best option for every type of education. When we engage simulation as a modality, it is relatively complex, expensive and resource intensive compared to other educational methodologies. That all being said we all know at times it is an irreplaceable methodology that allows education, competency assessment, as well as system assessment information to be utilized in the improvement of healthcare. The key is to have a stratification process/policy in place to evaluate opportunities to decide when simulation is the optimal deployment tool.
As leaders and managers of simulation programs we are charged with creating the return on investment for our programs. We are entrusted by the people who provide our funding to be good stewards of the investment and ongoing operational support of the simulation efforts. It is up to us to hold the keys to the vault that we call simulation so that it gets engaged, deployed and/or utilized in the fashion that generates the expected outcomes with the highest amount of efficiency and effectiveness.
In short, don’t simulate because you can, simulate because you need to!
As your simulation center becomes a more recognized resource within your institution, there will often be an increase in request for services. As this occurs it is critically important that leaders of programs are ensuring that the simulations are bringing value.
For example, if someone wants you to do simulation training for an entire unit to rule out a new simple policy or procedure change, do not just say yes. Instead, create a framework that advises the requester if simulation is the best modality.
When contemplating the value of simulation as a modality, I think it is best to go back to the creation of learning objectives for anticipated scenarios. I always like to say that if you do knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA) analysis of your learning objectives and they all come up with K’s, you should reevaluate whether simulation is the best method.
Web-based education including courses, videos, lectures, or assigned reading may accomplish the same objectives as your planned simulation. If this is the case, as a leader in simulation it is important that you recognize this and recommend modalities other than simulation. It will likely save your organization time and money. More importantly, it may increase the credibility of your advice and reputation moving forward as a problem solver for the institution as well as someone who is fiscally responsible. Over time it can be valuable for a simulation program to enjoy a reputation of “the solution deployment” expert, not simply the “simulation” expert.
It is important to remember that the true value we provide is in the end-result of creating higher quality healthcare along with a safer environment for patients. In this day and age, it has become increasingly important that our engagement is thoughtful, prudent with cost considerations in mind. While we are all passionate about simulation, leaders of the future will garner success through a lens of efficiency and effectiveness in the programs that we deploy.
In conclusion, healthcare simulation is an important tool for education and patient safety, but it is not always the best tool. Simulation program managers and leaders should consider the specific learning outcomes they hope to achieve and carefully consider which educational modality is most appropriate for their learners. By doing so, they can ensure that they are providing the best possible, most cost-efficient training for their staff and ultimately improving patient outcomes.
Remember: Don’t simulate because you can, simulate because you need to!
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Until next time,